Crete is a very popular vacation destination for both families and couples. I have my reasons to think that you should not go to Crete with your family and let me tell you why.
What is Crete Like for Families? If you are traveling with bigger kids and want to entertain them with fun activities, Crete doesn’t really offer much else but beaches and a waterpark. Because of the popularity, Crete is more expensive than other Greek Islands, these facts mean that Crete is not an ideal family destination.
I am guessing that this opinion will be the opposite of what you will be reading about Crete on other blogs and travel-related websites.
If you take the time to read on, I will explain to you why Crete is not the best Greek island to visit, and what alternatives you might consider visiting instead.
What Crete is like for Families
Let me tell you about our visit, we visited Crete before having kids, we actually had a lovely time, but we have also visited other Greek Islands and there are several reasons that Crete is not an ideal destination.
This is my reasons as to why you should not go to Crete as a family.
#1 A long bus ride awaits you after your flight
When you touch down in Heraklion city, you will have to go on a bus ride. The bus ride alone is at least 2 hours and 45 minutes, and you will have to endure this with tired kids and while you are tired of traveling yourself.
You will be able to find flights directly to Chania, but some companies will tell you that you are looking at a direct flight for Crete, and not Chania.
Make sure to check the fine print, if you want to avoid the almost 3 hours bus ride.
We stayed in a smaller city called Rethymnon between Heraklion and Chania, so we had to go by bus from Heraklion. I remember the trip was about 2 hours in a steaming hot bus
#2 There is not much fun for families
Besides the beach, and an Aqua Water Park, there is not really many fun activities in Crete, and for an island that relies so much on tourism financially, I don’t understand why there is no one investing in creating more fun stuff for families.
Compared to the time we went to Germany, there wasn’t anything to do. I guess they rely solely on their weather and the beaches.
#3 There are cheaper islands in Greece
This is the part that really makes Crete not worth visiting as a family. There are so many other Greek Islands that you can visit, the less known it is, the cheaper it probably is.
Actually the cheapest vacation, we ever had was when visiting the island called Samos, which is the 9th largest island compared to Crete, which is the largest.
There is nothing wrong with a family vacation spent on the beach, or at the hotel pool, but if you are going for this kind of vacation anyway, there is just cheaper Greek islands to choose from.
Crete is a great place, do not misunderstand me.
We had a great time, we actually really loved the small family-owned / boutique hotel we stayed at. It wasn’t expensive either, and we were only a few meters away from the beach.
But you are able to find a great pool, a great beach, and a great hotel many places on earth, and if you visit Spain or France, you will most likely be eating at much better restaurants, at the same price.
What is Crete Known for?
It really depends on who you are asking. But Crete might be most famous for the gigantic Samaria gorge, a great and beautiful hike, which I will describe below in a section about things to do if you visit Crete.
But if we go back in time, Crete contains the ruins of an ancient Minoan site or city that was devastated by a volcanic eruption. A fascinating story about a civilization that was destroyed about 3500 years ago.
There are also records of tools being dated back over 130,000 years.
And I understood it correctly, Crete was supposed to be the place in Greek Mythology, where Zeus, the king of gods and men, where born and raised in a cave.
I might be wrong, but what I am trying to tell you is that if you love Greek Mythology, history and want to learn and see ancient ruins and old cities, then Crete is actually pretty cool.
I enjoyed it, but my girlfriend found it pretty boring, and I am guessing that kids will hate it because it might feel like being in school.
When is the Best Time to go to Crete?
If I have not discouraged you from going to Crete, then read on as I will show you the average weather temperatures, and in the next section, I will show you, that there is actually some activities that you can do.
Average Temperatures in Crete
|January||9 – 15||48 – 59|
|February||9 – 15||48 – 59|
|March||9 – 17||48 – 68|
|April||12 – 20||53 – 61|
|May||15 – 24||59 – 75|
|June||19 – 27||66 – 80|
|July||22 – 29||71 – 84|
|August||22 – 29||71 – 84|
|September||19 – 27||66 – 80|
|October||17 – 24||48 – 75|
|November||13 – 20||55 – 68|
|December||10 – 17||50 – 68|
Average water temperatures in Crete
Source of average water temperatures: https://www.west-crete.com/climate-weather-crete.htm
6 Things to do in Crete
This is a list of activities to do while in Crete, we did not try them all while we were there. Crete is a big island, and some of these activities will require a lot of driving.
We stayed at a very lovely hotel, and as I previously mentioned, we visited Crete before having kids, so we did not have to do activities every day.
The hotel we stayed at, was a tiny hotel called Leonidas, but the service was great, and we felt like we could really relax at the tiny hotel pool. Many hotels and resorts can be very crowded, but because we were so close to the beach, all the other guests weren’t anywhere to be found.
It was really great.
#1 Ancient Knossos Excursion
If you are into history or like me, just generally fascinated by stories and ancient times, then you have to visit Knossos while you are in Crete, otherwise, there is no much sense in going.
My girlfriend was bored, and it was very hot and crowded when we were there, but I was captivated by the ruins.
You get to hear about the ancient Minoan people, who were much more civilized 1500 BC than the Vikings in Scandinavia, where we come from.
We were told that Knossos in the Greek Myths, was the home of the monstrous Minotaur, half-man, half-bull.
I like to visit a place like this because I like to make my mind wonder about how it might have been, and let my imagination run wild.
There were a lot of families visit the ancient palace of Knossos, but the kids looked to be very bored.
I would never bring my kids here unless they were at least 10-years old and was interested in history or Greek mythology at least.
#2 Hiking Imbros or Samaria Gorge Crete
We chose to go for the smaller gorge called Imbros, which is about 8 km (5 miles) whereas the Samaria gorge is about 16 km (10 miles).
Both my girlfriend and I, really enjoy hiking but this trip was very tough, it was hot and it was a downhill hike, which is very hard on the knees and feet.
TIP: There is no way to quit, while you are at the half-way point, so you really have to make sure, that you are up to the task before going. I do not recommend bringing elderly people or small kids to this trip.
This is also one of the reasons, that I do not recommend Crete as a family destination. If you are traveling with small kids, you are not able to do this activity.
But, if you are a very active family who is used to hiking in mountains and gorges, then go for it. It is very beautiful.
#3 History In Rethymnon
There is many excursions from Chania, to the city we stayed at, in Crete. If you like history and old buildings, then Rethymnon is a very beautiful place to visit.
We have hundreds of pictures of buildings and old narrow streets, i tried to select a few to show you of these locations.
TIP: If you want to go to restaurants in Rethymnon, I would recommend visiting the old parts of the town, and get some distance from the beach.
You will find much better food, and a broader selection of restaurants to choose from.
#4 A trip to Santorini
We considered this trip more than once, but we ended up not going. We were only in Crete for one week, and a trip to Santorini was an all-day trip.
It is about 2 – 3 hours by a fast sailing boat from Crete to Santorini, and then you will spend the day and sail back again.
Santorini is a unique place to visit, the name of the Greek island is officially Thira, but everyone calls it Santorini.
Thira is the 36th largest island in Greece, but this only makes it about 90 square kilometers (35 square miles), which is 12×7 km (7.5×4.3 miles). This means that you will be able to walk around from one end to another.
Santorini is known for its white-painted house, and the blue rooftops. A very popular tourist destination in Greece.
#5 Water parks
I can’t tell you about the water parks and other theme parks in Crete, we did not visit them, while we were there.
But I guess this is where you would want to spend some time if you are traveling with kids.
There is also a park called Dinosaur park, and a Labyrinth Theme Park.
A quote, from a review on TripAdvisor “Good little find that kills time!”. It looks like other families have a hard time entertaining their kids, while in Crete.
If Water Parks is the only reason you go on a holiday, then I suggest picking a hotel with a waterpark, like the one we stayed at, in Sunny Beach Bulgaria. It was cheaper, and great all-inclusive destination.
We are not a beach-going couple, so we did not actually go to the beach at all. Therefore I can’t really tell you much about our experiences and what we think.
When I visit other blogs and read about Crete, it seems like you would want to go to the beach of Elafonissi, but if you are staying at Heraklion or Chania, this might be trip that will set you back several of hours in a bus.
The beach in Rethymnon looked to be great, much better than the beach in Samos City (or Vathy) that we stayed at in Samos, and our hotel was only 50 meters from the beach or so.
If you are only going for a beach holiday, then you might want to book a hotel near the Elafonissi beach, or you might want to choose a cheaper island than Crete.
Summary: Is Crete Worth Visiting?
The world is so big, and there are just so many places to go visit.
I can make up a bucket list of destinations for you, that you won’t be able to visit in a lifetime, and Crete will not be on this list.
This does not mean that you will have a bad time visiting Crete. I am just saying that there are much nicer places to visit in the world, but also just in Greece alone.
If I compare Crete to Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, Crete wins by 100 miles, but if compare Crete to the smaller Greek Island Samos, then Samos will take every win by 100 miles.
You might encounter other bloggers that have fallen totally in love with Crete, in a way that we never did.
Crete plays a big part in Greek mythology, and I really enjoyed learning about this on our trip to Knossos, but I am making this a review for families and not for historic and culturally interested couples.
If you are going as a couple, the small hotel called Leonidas in Rethymnon, was very great.
How long is the ferry from Santorini to Crete?
You are able to go from Crete to Santorini by a fast ferry. The ferry ride from Heraklion to Santorini is about 2.5 hours. The ferry ride from Chania to Santorini is about 3 hours. The bus ride between Chania and Heraklion is about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Is Crete its own country?
Crete is not its own country, but it is the biggest island in Greece. Greece is comprised of more than 200 inhabited islands. Crete is one of the most popular Greek islands for tourist to stay at, and has a population of about 625.000 people
Do they speak English in Crete?
The main language is Greek and some remote villages speak a unique Cretan dialect. Tourism is an important part of the economy in Crete, which makes English an important language for the locals. We did not encounter any problems in communicating when we visited Chania in Crete.